All the time we’re trying to find a secret of success. But what is it actually? Is it an answer to all your questions – all in one? Or is it, perhaps, a perfect tool for growing your business? You may think that it doesn’t exist anyway, so why should you think about it at all? Right, it doesn’t exist yet. But it is possible if you invent it. Every business on its way to success does the same – it reinvents the secret of success for its particular case.
There will be always top performing products in the market you’re trying to conquer.
The question is whether you are going to join them or always look at them from the bottom up. The first premise of the effective marketing strategy is to be able to critically analyze your current position in the market. For the latter, you need to know how to get and leverage the data from the users and third party providers. Thus, you may want to take into consideration the Frontrunners methodology.
In case if you know nothing on the topic there are few things for you to fastly get oriented.
The Frontrunners methodology helps you to realize your place in the market and realize what is your weak side by evaluating capability and value that you provide customers by means of your product.
You may wonder where you can get those two. This where you need your customers to participate.
For applying FrontRunners methodology, you would try to get the essential information from the first hands.
Therefore, you would need to ask customers to provide you with the ratings on the range of product-related issues. From the side of capability, you need your customers to evaluate product’s functionality, customer support, and ease of use.
At the same time, from the point of value, your customers have to rate the product on the overall satisfaction, on how good value meets price, and on how likely they would recommend it.
Besides, there’s a range of issues you need to rate the product in comparison to other products in the niche like the following ones: for key functionality of an appropriate category, integration with other services (which relate to capability score), size of the customer base, number of professionals who have experience with the product, average number of times per month users search for the product on Google, and the number of user reviews across certain web properties (which are softwareadvice.com, capterra.com, and getapp.com).
FrontRunners methodology is a great project management tool that serves for analyzing products of particular software category for the capability and value they provide.
Later on, in this article, we will dig into this process and find out how you can leverage it to make your product join top performing products.
How should I think about it?
Reaching top performing products has never been easy. It’s a complex task that takes time and efforts. Of course, if you are CEO of a startup, you may start with hiring a good product manager and marketer. But if we skip the obvious steps and deep into the topic, we will find out that efforts of good start can also be insufficient. You need to head in the right direction, possess an effective business marketing strategy, and always keep your hand on the pulse of changing market conditions (to be able to change when needed).
The Very important premise of performing all those above is the on-going reflection on your current point on the market scale.
And it’s what we are going to learn by means of the FrontRunners methodology, which can become an extremely efficient project management tool.
The FrontRunners methodology is one of evaluating products of a particular software category by capability and value scores that they offer. It’s also called a quadrant because we operate with x- and y-axis in the right-upper quadrant, which also should be divided into 4 parts. X-axis stands for the value score and y-axis stands for capability score. Each axis has a range from 0 to 5. So are the ratings that the product should be given on each of the characteristics. (Take a look at the FrontRunners graphic below)
The quadrant is divided into the 4 parts: Contenders, Masters, Leaders, Pacesetters. According to the pretty straightforward graphics, you can see that the lower your value and capability scores are – the closer to 0 you’re risking to appear.
Thus, low value and capability scores result in Contenders section. There your product can be surrounded by the product of such companies like Cosential, Sales Now, Teamgate, etc. As the capability score of your product grows but value score stays at the low positions you reach Pacesetters’ place. There you can face the products of Gold Vision, Oracle, bpm online. In case if your product’s capability score has decided not to grow but the value score has raised your product can reach Masters’ section with the product of Bitrix24, Hatchbuck, Base. Finally, the section of Leaders would be accessible under the condition of having both capability and value scores pretty high. In this section live product of such companies like Hubspot, Salesforce, Zoho.
The FrontRunners graphic is an essential part of the process. It provides you with the possibility to easily keep in mind the main landmarks by putting a visual component on the front.
What do I need to evaluate?
Capability and value scores are rather complicated issues. Both involve a range of characteristics, each of which should be rated for the particular product from 0 to 5. Finally, the weighted average of them should be calculated.
Capability part contains three issues of analysis: user ratings, functional completeness, and business confidence. Each of those has own characteristics that need to be rated.
For users ratings:
- ease of use
- customer support
For the functional completeness:
- the inclusion of the essential functions of this software category
- the number of products your product integrates with and the number of the product that integrates with it
For the business confidence:
- customer base
- the growth rate of the product’s customer base
- employee base
- annual growth rate of the vendor’s employee base
On the other hand, value score relies on the user ratings, and product adoption.
For user ratings:
- overall satisfaction with the product
- how likely users would recommend it
- how good the value matches the price
For product adoption:
- customer base
- the number of professionals who have experience with it
- the number of user reviews across the three Gartner web properties (softwareadvice.com, capterra.com, and getapp.com)
- the average number of times per month internet users search for the product on Google
Each of those characteristics above should be rated. After that, you find the weighted average of them for capability and value scores.
Here is how the quadrant should look like (together with the competing products). (Pointing at the image below).
Taken from the Gartner Blog
Where should I get data?
As mentioned in the guidelines of the FrontRunners methodology, provided by Software Advice:
“The content for the FrontRunners quadrant is derived from actual end-user reviews and ratings as well as vendor-supplied and publicly available product and company information that gets applied against a documented methodology…”
One of the trickiest questions is the one about data sources. And here you need to get a lot of information in order to make the experiment trustworthy. Of course, the main data sources are customers. They rate your services, leave comments, write you when they have doubts or when they’re extremely pleased. If you lack communication with customers first what you need is to strengthen the bridge between you and them. Besides, you can always ask your customers to participate in surveys in exchange for unique information that you have and can provide them.
The rest of the data (that is not directly concerned with the users’ voices) you are supposed to get from the public sources collected by third party providers or Gartner associates. The latter means that certain portion of data may come from such platforms like Software Advice, Capterra, and Getapp that are considered to be trustworthy by the inventors of the FrontRunners methodology. Logically, the top performing products have more reviews and higher ratings on those websites. The same works with any other data providers. If your product is great from all the sides people will talk about it.
Now you can take a look at another FrontRunners graphics (the one that Teamgate has come up with) and compare it to the similar one you have seen earlier in this article from Gartner’s blog (just scroll up). The period of time between them is around 4 months. As you can see the positions of the same products differ. This means that the position of your product – just as of any other one – isn’t a stable figure.
Learn more on how to efficiently analyze your current state of business with the help of SWOT analysis.
Teamgate’s example of finding a place on the quadrant
You need to be able to track your current point on the market scale all the time. FrontRunners methodology can help you to compare the position of your product to the top performing products in a certain software category and join them later. FrontRunners methodology can help to realize your gaps and get a right direction. It’s a very efficient project management tool to include in your arsenal.